Google Chrome Update Revives Classic Functionality, Just When We Need It Most

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Google has released an update for the Android version of Web browser Chrome which introduces native RSS functionality.

In the latest version of Android, Chrome users can organize a stream of updates from their favorite websites using a new Follow button, housed in the three-dot menu at the top right of the screen. Articles posted to these websites will then appear in a smart looking feed whenever the user opens a new browser tab.

According to tweets Adrienne Porter Felt, director of engineering for Google Chrome, the functionality has already been deployed to some of the users running the latest version (Chrome 94). Others can activate the feature manually through the Chrome flag system (chrome: // flags) under “web feed”.

Unfortunately, the feature is currently not available for iOS or desktop users, but Porter Felt says updates for those platforms are on the way.

By creating a new avenue for sharing and discovering web content, the rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter effectively ended the heyday of RSS, the open standard upon which many aggregation tools are based.

However, as problems with the algorithmic approach to content discovery emerge (misinformation, echo chambers, etc.), many people are looking for a way to exercise greater control over the content provided to them. .

Currently, many of these people are content with free RSS readers, many of which are developed on a shoestring budget (or no budget at all) and as such often lacking in finish and depth. But now, to fix the decision to remove its own RSS service, Google Reader, Google is making a comeback with Chrome.

“We heard it loud and clear” wrote Paul Bakaus, Head of Web Creator Relations, when the feature was first announced. “Discovery and distribution is lacking on the open web, and RSS has not been ‘consumer friendly’.

While RSS is unlikely to return to its old status, Google’s decision to bring back the technology from the cold could signal the start of a new trend. The backlash against social media and the economy that underlies click traps and misinformation could see RSS (or other similar technology) playing a much more influential role in the way people interact with the web in social media. years to come.

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